Lao Tao Taiwanese Food

Seen the name at CTown Summer Nights and Taiwanese Food is one of my favorites. My mom is from Taipei, and I am very fortunate for all the trips to SGV growing up. So this food means a lot to me. My Grandma on my Mom’s side is also a very good home cook, so I am lucky in that aspect as well.

Lao Tao is on the 2nd floor of the Far East Plaza. I think for a lot of American Born’s in the LA area, the Far East Plaza is pure nostalgia. We have memories of this place. Of course in the past few years this Plaza has gotten very popular with Chego and Howlin Rays. I like how it is now, a mix of the New and Old. Where else can you get Fish Ball Noodle Soups and Leek Cakes at Kim Chuy, Vietnamese snacks next door, Shanxi-style Chinese Food at Qin West, Chego and its Stoner Bowls of Mexican and Asian Fusion, Nashville Hot Chicken at Howlin Rays, Tea-based drinks at Ten Ren, and upstairs pure Hong Kong at Fortune Gourmet with its white cut chicken, water spinach, shrimp and scrambled eggs and daily soup (Cantonese Soups are underrated) or across the way for HK Western Food. Now there is Taiwanese!

The Ban Mian. Beef is nice and tender, with a light “lu wei” flavor. Noodles were QQ and wide. Didn’t get much Bone Marrow from the sauce. Solid. Homemade pickled veggies/suan cai.

The Pork Belly Bowl or their version of Lu Rou Fan. Pure Taiwan Soul Food. This was a huge miss for me. The pork? Why is this not darker? It is braised, low and slow, in soy sauce, wine, rock sugar, and other spices, or it should be! This is very watered down and it is missing the richness that makes this a soulful dish. The Egg/Lu Dan is pretty bland, and again you can tell by the color.

The Sausage. I liked it. But not better than Sinbala. I actually prefer my Chinese Sausage more sweeter and garlicky. Take a pack of sausage and throw it in the rice cooker, and blanche some Chinese greens is a perfect meal for me. I probably wouldn’t order it again.

The Oyster Omelette. I think it was missing starch? (corn/sweet potato/tapioca). Sauce was sweet with a hint of spice, you get briney from the oysters, but the egg lacked flavor.

It is a good intro to Taiwanese food and I am glad they are here, but for me, it was a little average. Others will appreciate the lighter flavors. I’ll be back to try other items.


Thanks for the report @JeetKuneBao, and taking one for the team.

So the Beef Noodles were OK (and only thing worth ordering)?

Honestly I am not sure if Lao Tao is intentionally making everything “lighter” or what.

I got excited when I saw Bone Marrow Sauce for the Ban Mian, but that was a let down, but the noodles were perfectly Q and beef pieces were nice. So that makes it…average??

I guess with every dish I had I liked some parts and other parts were meh.

I didn’t try the side dishes like Popcorn Chicken and Tofu-Pi Dan.

Stinky Tofu King in Rowland Heights does a proper Lu Rou Fan/Braised Pork Rice.

And a pretty good bowl of Beef Noodles (I might hit up Dai Ho this week)


Look at the difference between the bowls!!

First and last time I went to Stinky Tofu King in Rowland Heights (this was before they opened branches in SGV), the owner is Southern Taiwanese who speaks the Taiwanese dialect. While his stinky tofu rendition is a bit strange (less pungent, and he uses freeze dried tofu, at least at the time), the other items such as minced pork (which I had over A-choy/A-tsai) and “gong wan” (pork meatballs), as well as the sour plum drink I had at the time, were excellent. I also recall them making very decent dumplings (frozen to go) and also purchased a bag of the meatballs to bring back home in an ice chest. Good stuff.


I think I had Thanksgiving lunch there with the boy. Steamed fish, gai lan, chicken and snow peas, and some kind of broth that was gratis. I thought it was great, but I didn’t realize it was Taiwanese, and didn’t order any Taiwan food.

Sounds like the place next to Lao Tao, Fortune Gourmet Kitchen.

Steamed Fish, Gai Lan, and Soup is a very typical Cantonese meal.

Yes! Thanks.

The lu rou fan at Tofu King is one of the (b)est renditions I’ve had. Bebe Fusion in Alhambra does a great version too. Really, unless someone is in or around the “Westside Eastside”, they should make the trip to the SGV. It’s not that much further to the “real eastside.”

I like SinBaLa.


I know there are several other worthy items at SinBaLa, but I always get caught up in having sausage there :slight_smile: I’ll have to check theirs out. Thanks for the rec.

Yeoh fan (“oily rice”) is bomb there.

I see your oily rice and raise you an eel rice.

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Sin Ba La’s pork rice is either D6 or D7. One is with bamboo shoots (cooked/simmered in the pork sauce), or the Hakka/Hakka Taiwanese mei cai kou rou braised pork belly with pickled mustard greens.

The appetizer (no rice) they have is Lou Kou Rou Fan 滷扣肉 which I assume is the same thick cuts.

It’s all pork rice, but apparently there are regional differences and naming to some degree.

滷肉飯 Lou Rou Fan (Northern term ), Rou Zhao Fan 肉燥飯 (Southern term). Both mean the same thing, minced pork simmered with sauce over rice. Usually chopped very fine. The latter is unmistakenly puffy airy minced pork and is also used to stir fry with vegetables, or with Tainan style daan jai noodles. Lou Rou Fan as finely chopped fatty pork belly (with a super tender lean portion) is more prevalent at night markets. Stinky Tofu King’s is close enough visually.

Then there’s 炕肉飯 Khong Rou Fan (Northern TW term) which is also called Lou Rou Fan in Southern Taiwan. KRF are when they serve larger chunks of the 3 layer pork belly (skin, fat, lean). Degree of tenderness (and dryness/moistness)can vary. That’s what I see for Sinbala’s version if the yelp pictures of the pork rice (with bamboo shoots) is any indication.

But we’re in the USA, so anything might go to some degree.


For the sake of comparison, here is the 滷肉飯 (lu rou fan, or braised pork on rice) lunch combo from the restaurant 金峰魯肉飯 (Jin Feng Lu Rou Fan) from a quick trip I took to Taipei last year. The complexity and slight smokiness of the meat, the pickled radish, and the steaming hot rice all elevated this bowl to nirvana for the tastebuds. The side dishes (slow-cooked ginseng chicken soup with goji berries, marinated “perspiring” tea egg, and steamed seasoned local green morning glory) showed excellence in execution, and each complemented the lu rou fan perfectly. Oh, and the total cost was around USD$5.


what the hell is this and why do I want one

In a basic Yelpers review


I want to crush that so bad